The Big Question, August 28: What is the most significant aspect of Sen. Kennedy's legacy?

Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
I’ll just agree with Senator Kennedy on this one. He said that his vote against the Iraq War was the most important vote that he cast the whole time he was in the Senate.

At a time, when most of the political establishment, and certainly most of the media establishment, was cowed by an administration yelling about the threat of terrorism, Senator Kennedy stood back and looked at the evidence in a serious manner. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said:
The most significant accomplishment of Ted Kennedy’s time in the United States Senate was his leadership in deregulating the airline, trucking and rail industries circa 1980.

He understood that free markets, competition and easy entry into the market protected consumers better than top down command and control regulations that had lasted for rail since the late 1800s. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

Michael J. Wilson, National Director of Americans for Democratic Action, said:
Raising the minimum wage was the right thing to do – but was not related to his immediate family. Did Ted Kennedy ever work for the minimum wage? No. But for those of us who have, we will never, ever, forget his staunch advocacy for those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder. A legitimate icon, he chose to make adding fifty cents or a dollar an hour to the paychecks of hotel maids, hospital orderlies and store clerks a large part of his legacy. He may have been to the manor born, but his goal was not to turn millionaires into billionaires, but to extend simple economic fairness to workers. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

Dick Morris, Pundits Blog contributor, said:
Senator Kennedy was like a compass. Instead of always pointing north, he always pointed left. As such, he defined the direction liberalism needed to take and set out the case for change. He was not always right, but he was the most consistent of politicians, always staking out a position that moved the nation to his favored ideological pole. His consistency and courage deserve our admiration. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

Chris Kofinis, Pundits Blog contributor, said:
What’s Senator Kennedy’s legacy? Simple answer - he made America, and the lives of tens of millions of people, better. It is a lasting tribute to his incredible life as a public servant that he fought tirelessly for a better life for so many. And, it is a lasting tribute to his determination and passion that he was able to accomplish so much. America will miss him, but America will never forget him.

Herbert London, President of the Hudson Institute, said:
Although I disagreed with Senator Kennedy on most matters and harbored resentment over his mendacious comments about Judge Bork when he was nominated for the Supreme Court, he did have an extraordinary ability to cross the political aisle when he thought it appropriate to do so.

Brent Budowsky, Pundits Blog contributor, said:
Chris Matthews is wrong. Kennedy’s legacy will advance again with a mobilization for the public option on the healthcare bill in September, not whispered hints of a Democratic surrender with a progressive president and large majorities in Congress.

Ted Kennedy often said that his greatest mistake was when President Richard Nixon offered a sweeping healthcare reform that was bolder than any president had ever offered, including Democratic presidents, and Kennedy turned down the offer. Kennedy knew that his greatest mistake was not reaching for too much when the opportunity was offered, but for accepting too little when the moment that Nixon offered was at hand. READ THE FULL RESPONSE HERE.

John Feehery, Pundits Blog contributor, said:
Redemption.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:
The establishment of a political family. We’d not had it before in our country except at the beginning which is a different situation; a situation requiring greater stabilization. Now we have several; the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bushes. A major fundraiser in the South once said that the Clintons are the closest thing we have to “…a king and a queen.” If so, the Kennedys are the closest thing we have to the Romanovs. This is not the fault of the Kennedys or any of the other families. It is a new political reality that has emerged from the political collective since post-war. It may not auger well for a free republic.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said:
Ted Kennedy’s life demonstrates the nobility of public service.

It inspires generations of public servants to reassert that nobility, even now finding new ways to make their service more effective, including superior customer service.